My new book is available for purchase! I'm beyond excited to see this project in print. Visit University of Nebraska Press for purchasing.
I'm super excited about classes this upcoming fall semester! I'll be teaching: Religion: Theory and Method, a requirement for religious studies majors; Religion and Film (a class I've already taught, check out the link above for the old syllabus); and a new course, Religion and Monsters. Contact me if you have questions about any of those courses!
I'm looking forward to my upcoming talk at UNF through the International Studies Senior Seminar Lecture Series! My talk is titled "Dancing for Snow: Ski Resorts, Cultural Appropriation, and American Indian Ritual Practice."
Info: 2/12, 12-1:15
See you there!
I'm excited to be headed to the 2015 Western Historical Association Meeting in Portland this October!
Here is the abstract of the paper I will be presenting:
Dancing around Walls: The Ute Bear Dance and “Real” Religion, 1891-1941
From 1891-1941, anthropologists rushed to Ute reservations to document the Bear Dance, an example of what they believed to be a rapidly disappearing religious practice. Julian Steward and Omar Stewart were among these observers and were part of a national anthropological trend to document cultures they believed to be in decline. While documenting Ute ceremonial practices, many anthropologists focused on “authentic” religion, and through their observations over fifty years, this collection of reports documented a “decline” in real religion replaced by an emphasis on materialism and Western modernity. This paper traces the operating definition of religion throughout these anthropological reports, using both archival and published sources, in order to argue that these scientific observations worked to construct walls between past and present Indian ceremonial practices, even as Indians worked to create porous boundaries between white and Ute cultures. In short, early twentieth century anthropological observations of Ute culture created a definition of Indian religion that was anti-modern. This definition attempted to fence Indians into a static, stagnant area of pre-modernism. Utes, however, danced freely between and among modern spaces and the anthropological pre-modern imagination in order to sustain a ceremonial dance into the twenty-first century
Dr. Brandi Denison
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies